Once you get down the basics of training, you’ll see that other types of training may serve you. There are behavioral training methods, obedience training, agility training and vocational training. Each offers a different focus. As you get to know your dog, you’ll be able to incorporate what you need. For example, if you have a particularly energetic dog, you may want to schedule agility training. It is a great way to bond with your dog, get his energy focused on training and keep you both healthy. Here are the methods of training and what they can do for you.
· General obedience. All dogs need general obedience. Some people opt for training classes, but these are not a substitute for you working with your own dog. Usually dog training classes are held once a week, or twice at the most. This is a great opportunity to get ideas on how to help your dog with obedience, but you must work one-on-one with your dog daily. Remember that you are the pack leader so you must let your dog know this. Training is a great way to get the message across. You will be teaching your pet how to act in a variety of situations, all of which involve listening and paying attention to you. You will find that as you work with your dog, you will foster the bond you need to make the relationship as strong as possible. As you take your pet out into the world with you, he must understand the basic sit, heel, come, lay down, etc. These commands will help your dog understand what is required of him in all situations. This will not only make the lives of those around you easier, but will make your life easier as well. Yes, training general obedience takes time and effort but in the long run it will be well worth the time. Just like having a baby is a life-changing event, so is getting a new dog. The good news, though, is that they both grow up. Although your puppy must know what the rules are now, if you’re effective at teaching him what they are, he’ll soon display them with little to no direction. You’ll find that your rambunctious puppy is now a loyal companion for you and your entire family. You can proudly look at your dog’s obedient behavior and say, “We worked together to do that!”
· Behavioral training. You may work with your dog diligently, follow all the rules and schedule plenty of training time, and still have behavioral problems. Of course, as we covered earlier, there are some issues that require at least a consultation with a professional, while there are others that you can work with yourself. These include separation anxiety, miscommunication between you and your dog, signs of aggression and challenging the leader.
First, let’s discuss separation anxiety. This can be difficult. Hopefully you had time to ease your puppy into your leaving, but if you didn’t, you may find that he is very fearful when you leave. Or you may have done everything possible to ease your puppy into being alone but he just isn’t getting it. There are many reasons why a puppy or dog may be anxious about your leaving. Look at your routine when you’re leaving. Sometimes your dog will get his cues from you. Do you fuss when you leave? Do you whine? Do you leave and come back, then leave and come back? All these things can exacerbate the issue. You should also consider your pup. Is he getting enough exercise or is he just bored? It may be necessary to take your pup out for a longer walk early in the day or to squeeze in some early training. The goal is to teach your puppy to be calm in the crate. This is best done when you are home. Work with your puppy to help him learn that he can play with his own toys when you aren’t around and still be fine. You can also try putting an article of your clothing into your dog’s crate. This will remind him that you’re not gone forever even though you’re out of the house for the moment.
Another behavioral issue is miscommunication between you and your dog. This is a relatively easy fix once you recognize it. Let’s say you tell your dog to do one thing and he repeatedly does another, or does nothing. Something about your training on this task is not working. That isn’t to say it won’t work on another dog, but for yours, you need new resources. Here is where you must remember that your dog is all about logic. Your dog doesn’t have any ulterior motives. He thinks you want “action A” so he does “action A.” Your job is to figure out 1) what signals you’re currently sending and 2) what those signals are telling your dog to do. Here is an example. You come home from work and, when you first get your dog out of his crate, he pees excitedly on the kitchen floor. However, your dog is housebroken at other times. Your training on housebreaking is great. Your training on coming home isn’t. Look at your routine. Do you walk in saying your dog’s name like, “Bongo, I’m home!” This may rile up your dog so much that he can’t hold it in during the moments when you let him out of the crate. Try coming in silently, then immediately taking your dog out to pee—before you take off your coat or check the mail. Make it your priority to get him outside. If your dog is small enough, scoop him under your arm and get him to his “pee spot” right away. Praise him and bring him back inside. Put him in the crate and leave. Come back in and see what happens. Now his bladder is empty, so peeing is highly unlikely. Don’t rile him up at all, but ease him out of his crate and give him the affection he wants. Consistently changing how you come home may be enough to manage this behavioral issue.
A third behavioral issue is incessant chewing. Talk to your veterinarian to make sure your pet’s teeth are healthy. Sometimes pets can chew more if they have an irritation or a problem with their mouths. Make sure health is not the underlying issue. Chewing can mean boredom and too much energy. It can also be a sign of too much unsupervised time. The cure for this is to increase your pet’s activity level. Possibly get him into some agility training. Also, be sure you’re with him as much as possible. If you can’t be with him to supervise, make sure someone else does or that he is safely in his crate.
· Agility training. Agility training is a fantastic tool. Not only is it another activity you can enjoy with your pet, it also reinforces your bond with him. The best way to start agility training is to ease into it. Most classes are stages, with beginner, intermediate and advanced levels of training. Try the beginner’s class to see how well you and your pet do with it. Before you pick a class, conduct a general assessment of the equipment to make sure it is sturdy and well put together. This is particularly important if you have a larger dog. Also, watch a few classes to see how the trainer directs them. You want someone who genuinely loves dogs and wants the best for them. The instructor’s care will show through and you’ll see it in his or her mannerisms with pets. Pay attention to your pet and see how well he takes to agility. Usually it is a great training method that can get out some excited puppy energy safely and constructively. The added benefit is that, while agility training, your dog will be socializing with a range of dogs. Nothing like killing two birds with one stone!
· Vocational training. This is a form of training that is worth considering if you want to increase your dog’s skills. Vocational training is training that will help your dog perform a service. This can include hunting, search and rescue, assisting the disabled or even working in the field of law enforcement. Of course, this option requires serious time and commitment. It can also be breed-specific. Check with your municipality to find out what vocational programs are available. They may be able to point you in the right direction to see if this works for you.
Each of these additional training methods involves heavy socialization. It can be argued that this is their main benefit. Your dog may be ready for more intense training; if so, these are the perfect outlets to consider.